ABN Amro on Wednesday apologized for the pain and suffering caused by the Dutch bank’s legal predecessors’ involvement in the slave trade, plantation slavery and the trade in products derived from slavery.
The Dutch were involved in slavery from the 17th century until it was abolished by the Netherlands in 1863, and many of Amsterdam’s financial elite had direct connections with it.
“We recognize that despite the abolition of slavery, past injustices remain,” ABN Amro Chief Executive Robert Swaak said in a statement.
In 2020, the Dutch bank asked independent researchers to examine its predecessors’ links to slavery as part of a broader global reappraisal of history and racism sparked by the death of George Floyd in the United States.
The insurance market Lloyd’s of London and the Bank of England each hired a historian to look at their role in the slave trade.
“ABN Amro apologizes for the past actions and activities of these predecessors and for the pain and suffering they have caused,” added Swaak.
The bank said it spoke to representatives of the descendants of enslaved people to discuss the research and said it will look at ways “to help improve the structural social disadvantage” they face.
ABN Amro’s apology follows the Dutch central bank’s “deep regret” at the role played by many of its early governors in the 19th-century slave trade.
ABN Amro said research he commissioned found that its predecessor, Hope & Co., was “pioneer” in the international slave trade of the 18th century, as it played an active role in day-to-day plantation business.
Research also revealed that Mees en Zoonen, another predecessor of ABN Amro, brokered insurance for slave ships and shipments of goods from enslaved people.
“Hope & Co. was the largest financial and trading company in the Netherlands at the end of the 18th century, and slavery-related operations formed a core part of its business,” said lead researcher Pepijn Brandon.
The Dutch West India Company operated ships that are estimated to have traded around 600,000 slaves, Dutch state data shows.
“Decisions made in offices in Amsterdam and Rotterdam directly impacted the lives of thousands of enslaved individuals,” Brandon said in the statement, which included ABN Amro’s apology.
https://nypost.com/2022/04/13/abn-amro-apologizes-for-dutch-banks-role-in-slavery/ ABN Amro apologizes for Dutch bank’s role in slavery